Vinnie had never been the kind of person who would snap about small things. All her life she’d been the annoying element that would have made others burst out and scream their agony looking up at the heavens, praying to be relieved of it.
Even back in school, when that bully Pavan Guleri had punched her in the face once and had it bleeding for almost two hours, all she did was laugh it off and recede back to her former position in the dark corner of the class, immersing herself with her Dan Brown book. Not once did she even acknowledge the fact that Guleri might spill out her brains for getting on his nerves, by drawing mocking caricatures based on him on the blackboard for everyone to see.
She had always been a mixture of these extreme ends of completely unrestrained level of high accompanied by layers of silence.
Nobody in the class had read as many books in the library that she had, just like nobody had managed to throw the chalk piece holder out of the window in front of Mrs. Sehgal just because she detested her.
The only time I had witnessed Vinnie losing her cool was when someone challenged her opinions regarding a particular subject that she happened to have a really strong and firm stance about.
Whether it was because of her unyielding statements made clearly after a careful deliberation or because she would not hesitate to thow whatever was next to her at your face, made her an indestructible opponent during debates, the one place where Nathan actually didn’t mind having her on the same team.
For instance, this one particular debate incident that made a lot of hubbub was More or Less, which was related to questioning whether we needed a feministic approach to problems of suppression in the society or an equalistic one?
When it came to most people in debates, there’s always a grey area where both the sides usually meet indirectly, but when Vinnie talked, she diminished this land of truce. Her arguments though justified and well researched was ruthless, having no place for others’ standpoint. That did not mean she never listened to their views, it’s just she fought mercilessly to defend hers. And like she’d always said if she thought the opponent had managed to somehow convince her against her stand, then she would not bother to continue forth her argument with any more points and accept defeat. But that was yet to occur.
The triggering point, if I may call it, in the More or Less debate was the part where Prathik, her opponent who was taking a stand as an equalist said something contentious when Vinnie pointed out the struggles of dysmenorrhoea in woman, especially in the labour class, who were already being paid less.
“The majority of women in the workforce earn roughly Rs. 62 for every Rs. 100 that men earn, while doing 10 times more unpaid labor than men do-“
“This is your strong point isn’t it?” Prathik interrupted her with a grin.
“Shoot people with irrelevant statistics that have nothing to do with the bigger picture.”
Vinnie shook her head, her face questioning him as if to ask Seriously?
“Our major concern here, is not to ensure higher standards for women, rather to provide an equal approach to benefits and opportunities for all irrespective of who you are as a person.” Prathik said, turning away from Vinnie and addressing the audience.
“And how are you going to achieve this feat, if you are so obstinately bent on trying to turn a blind eye towards the suppression of one specific part of the society? You can talk about equalistic approach when men and women have already reached that balance and there’s only a minor disturbance threatening to harm it. But according to the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap report, at the current rate of progress, it will take another 108 years to reach gender parity. So, no; men and women are not already equal.”
“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Are you against the idea of all people being treated equally and would rather want more preference to women’s needs? Aren’t you affecting the balance yourself?”
Vinnie bent her head down and laughed. Then looking up she said “This egalitarianism is a facade people like you wear, in order to divert attention from what really needs to be addressed. All that women are asking is for equal pay for both the genders not additional concessions, especially considering the fact that they have to work in unhygienic conditions even during their periods.”
“Ugh, there comes the ‘period’ card. You women, don’t really have any other compelling points of defence except to bring out the dysmenorrhoea- sympathy in the crowd, do you?”
Then with a mocking voice, he continued “Oh, my uterus hurts, cause I have ovaries. Seriously? Toughen up!”
The crowd went silent. The teachers looked uncomfortable, cause that was not just sexist but also level one toxic masculinity at wide display. Did anyone have the strength to curb it?
I looked at Vinnie, her face expressionless, still trying to comprehend the severity of the situation. Behind her, Mrs. Sehgal was almost on her feet in case Vinnie decided to pounce on Prathik and pull out his limbs. Instead Vinnie stood grounded, a small curve resembling a smirk forming on her face.
I guessed Nathan noticed it as well, cause I heard him whisper “Oh, he made a blunder. She’s going to extend her claws and devour him alive now.”
To be continued->